5 Apps for Virtual Facilitation
If you're a facilitator, you probably have experience in both virtual and face-to-face settings. Traditional facilitation skills, such as questioning, listening, and observing non-verbal communication, are still critical in the virtual world. However, there are some extra components to consider when facilitating virtually. Below are some areas we've found helpful to consider and the 5 tools we use for our own events.
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What to consider
Virtual facilitation is a great way to connect with remote teams. It can help people visualize their work or build trust between team members. Whether you are new to virtual facilitation or have been doing it for a while, you need to consider these tools to bring your sessions to life:
Virtual boards. A board is a visual tool that allows you to organize and share information. You can use it to track projects or visualize workflows, collaborate with others, and prioritize tasks.
Sticky notes in various shapes and colors
Ability to draw on the screen with lines and arrows
Adding icons, images, circles/ovals, text boxes, etc.
Multiple boards in one workspace
5 Apps for Virtual Facilitation
Tool # 1. Miro
Miro is a free tool that allows you to create custom boards and invite people to collaborate on them. You can share the board, add notes, shapes, text, emojis, attachments, and more. Miro allows participants to vote on all items on a board or specific areas. They have an extensive library of templates you can use, like Meeting minutes, Kanban boards, and brainstorming.
How we use Miro:
brainstorming ideas with team members
breakout room exercises (i.e. prepare a presentation in a smaller group, read through materials, create a visual map, etc.)
scenario-based case studies
voting on ideas and concepts
icebreakers and energizers
Tool #2. Sli.do
Sli.do is a free, easy-to-use audience response tool that allows participants to interact with presenters by submitting questions in real-time. Participants can use their mobile phones or computers during presentations and team-building activities. Sli.do also has a variety of other features, including polls and surveys, which allow you to gather information from your audience on the fly; it's great for remote meetings and large groups who aren't all sitting together in the same room or online meeting space. This virtual facilitator tool makes it easy to collect information without bogging down the presentation—or driving those taking notes crazy!
How we use Sli.do:
collect questions during an event
get audiences' reactions (through polling)
interacting with hundreds of participants
Tool #3. Kumospace
KumoSpace is a virtual meeting room that allows you to conduct collaborative meetings, trainings, and workshops with your colleagues or peers. You can also hold webinars and events as well as provide technical assistance to teams in real-time (though the large events features do not come with a free account).
How we use Kumospace:
1-on-1 meeting rooms - A private chat space with one person at a time.
Group sessions - an open virtual space where everyone joins in and can freely discuss any topics, just like in a physical room
Whiteboard - A blank canvas where you can draw on with markers and share your ideas visually in real-time with other participants in the meeting room.
Tool #4. Kahoot
Kahoot! is a gamified response system that can be used with remote teams for presentations, team-building activities, and icebreakers. It's free to use, but you'll need to register with Kahoot! Before getting started.
Your virtual session attendees will use their own devices during the meeting to follow along on their screen as you facilitate the event remotely or in person.
How we use Kahoot:
check understanding of a particular topic (through a quiz)
check comprehension after a complex problem (through a quiz)
gamifying learning content
icebreakers and energizers
Tool #5. Padlet
Padlet is a free tool that allows teams to collaborate on virtual boards that are both creative and visually pleasing. It's great for virtual facilitation because you can create colorful, exciting boards that will help your audience better engage with the content you're presenting. Padlet also allows you to add links, videos, and images throughout your board. This provides additional resources for participants as they work through the process of creating their own group projects or presentations.
How we use Padlet:
ask participants to put a pin of where they are right now on a Google map
brainstorm answers to case studies
vote or comment on other people's contributions
energizers during breaks (we ask participants to find a specific object - blue, round, frames, etc. - take a picture and post it on a board)
The world of virtual facilitation tools is HUGE! Here is a list of additional tools you may want to try:
Mentimeter: another audience-response tool, similar to Sli.do. It has a free plan and is easy to use, making it an excellent option for small teams or individuals who want to get started with virtual facilitation but aren't ready to commit to a paid plan just yet.
Groupmap: A simple tool that allows anyone to make sense of information by placing items onto a shared digital whiteboard. It's visual voting - where everyone has a voice!
Mural: another great virtual whiteboard for teams. Share boards, notes, documents, and links with ease.
It's important to remember that virtual facilitation is a skill you can develop over time with practice. Each tool mentioned has its own unique features and benefits, so feel free to test them out and figure out which one works best for you and your team. You'll definitely find the right tool or combination of tools—and the right mix of introspection, brainstorming, collaboration, and creativity—to help your meeting be more impactful.